Soups rarely require a recipe in our house.  Seat-of-the-pants soup I call it.

For the most part, I just chop up a mirepoix.  I sauté it until the vegetables are slightly limp or darker brown for more flavor. It depends on what I’m going to add to the pot. Whatever scraps of fish, meat or poultry I find get added along with more vegetables if we have them and some water.  Or stock.

The ingredients that require longer cooking simmer until tender.  Then I add noodles, pasta, rice or canned beans and anything that requires shorter cooking times as I did when making this sausage, vegetable and bow tie soup.

A little bit of simmering then I adjust the flavor of the soup with salt, seasonings and fresh herbs. Sometimes I finish the soup with a little coconut milk or dairy cream too. (Cream turned simmered corn and white fish into chowder below.) Right before serving, more fresh herbs, spices, green vegetables, citrus and other seasonings get added at the last minute enliven the flavor.  

Here are some things to keep in mind when finishing a pot of cooked vegetables and other ingredients. These are my enlivening steps that work well on canned or frozen soups too.

Stirred in during the last few minutes of cooking:

  • Shredded fresh baby kale or spinach
  • Diced tomatoes, fresh or canned
  • Slivered fresh basil
  • Hot chili oil
  • Slivered raw onion or shallots


Added at the table:

  • Grated Parmesan, pecorino or Gruyère cheese
  • Squeeze of lemon, lime or orange juice
  • Splash of balsamic, cider or red wine vinegar
  • Splash or tamari, soy or fish sauce
  • Splash of hot sauce, hot pepper vinegar, chili paste

Seat-of-the-Pants Soup Combinations

When making soups without a recipe, I do have a few combinations I enjoy. This chart shows my thinking. Maybe it will help you step away from the recipe and make your own soup when the mood strikes.Soup Table